Nutritionists say you can improve your hair’s health by feeding hair what it needs to be healthier from the inside out. While the quality, quantity, and distribution of your hair is genetically pre-determined and cannot be changed, solving hair malnutrition problems can make a big difference in the health and appearance of your hair.
o Is your hair breaking more easily?
o Is your hair duller than normal?
o Is your hair more limp than usual?
o Are you noticing more hair fall-out than normal?
Since your hair is often a barometer of your body’s health, if you notice hair thinning and fall-out, consult a board-certified dermatologist for an accurate diagnoses of your hair loss and consult your primary care physician in case hair loss is a symptom of a larger systemic health issue. In addition, evaluate your own diet and keep a food diary for about seven days to identify if you are falling into any of these bad hair diet traps.
Also, beware of ‘vitamin-enriched’ masks and conditioners that sit on top of hair because they can’t improve hair’s health. Stylists and doctors alike agree that applying proteins like collagen to your hair won’t change hair’s structure because hair is composed of dead cells, like fingernails, that don’t absorb and can’t ‘use’ the nutrients. You need to “feed” your hair what it needs to be healthy from the inside out!
o Appetizers: Steer clear of sugary, fatty foods. “Junk food is the worst offender,” advises dietitian Joanne Larsen, M.S, R.D. of askthedietitan.com. “Junk food fills you up with empty calories that have no nutritional value and your body can’t use the calories for building and maintaining healthy tissue, like skin and hair, let alone overall health.”
o Main Course: According to Larsen, hair is made of keratin protein and a diet deficient in protein will show up in hair thinning and loss along with dulling and breakage. The United States Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) Food Guide Pyramid advises that at least 15% of daily calories should come from high-quality protein-rich foods like lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products, soy, nuts, grains and seeds. According to the USRDA, Depending on weight, age, and physical activity level, adult men aged 25-51+ need 63 grams of protein (around six ounces of protein per day). Women aged 25-51+ need 50 grams (around five ounces).
o Side dishes: Be sure all eight essential amino acids which are included in ‘complete proteins’ are eaten every day. Some complete proteins include milk, egg whites, and a variety of legumes like beans, peas and nuts. If a person eats a variety of legumes, seeds, fruits, vegetables, and grains, they will get all eight essential amino acids an adult needs, as directed by the USRDA. In addition ‘essential fatty acids’ are not produced within the human body and must be taken from your daily diet are essential to shiny, vibrant, healthy hair and the cellular function necessary for hair growth. The use of cold-pressed nut and seed oils, such as flax seed oil, daily on salads and in any dishes that do not require heating contain the essential omega-6 fatty acids while omega-3 fatty acids are contained in fish.
o Drinks anyone? Avoid caffeine and carbonated drinks because they leach important vitamins and minerals from your body. These poor drink choices also take the place of healthier choices like water, green or black teas or fresh, all-natural fruit juices. In addition the human body needs about 64 ounces of water (eight, 8-oz. glasses) to maintain health. Are you getting enough? After urinating the first time after waking up, your urine should be colorless and odorless for the remainder of the day. If it is a concentrated yellow, or has a strong odor, increase your water intake, explains Larsen.
o Desserts: Don’t crash diet because a diet very low in calories (less than 600 calories per day) also deprives hair, as well as the rest of your body, of the necessary nutrients for health.
If you want more information on serving sizes of actual food choices, portions, and menu plans, go to mypyramid.gov to view a great chart that makes the information clear and easy to use in your daily diet, as recommended by the USRDA. Also, a good, whole food multi-vitamin and mineral supplement can help when your diet is out of balance. Larsen says beware hair analysis services that have not yet been determined appropriate for general nutritional evaluation. “Even though businesses in hair analysis operate, they are a waste of money,” she says.